Some possible characteristics of the CSU’s new GE:
1. Relationship to work: It will explicitly accommodate students who are part-time, working, transferring. It will build GE outcomes into existing employment with things like true work-study. It will advertise its connection to universal workforce skills.
2. Structure: It will incorporate faculty collaboration on research into the lower division. It will replace the lecture function with interaction and mentoring.
3. Deeper interaction: Under the current structure a student interacts with 10-12 professors a year, up to 50 in the typical undergraduate career:
4 courses X 3 quarters X 4 years = 48 professors
5 courses X 2 semesters X 4 years = 40 professors
A faculty member interacts with 100-150 students per term, up to a thousand over four years.
We might benefit from less of this shallow, mass-produced interaction. Could we get the same costs to deliver fewer, deeper interactions, something that looks more like mentorship and less like speed dating? If each three-unit course were really nine and lasted longer, we would cut the number of interactions to 1/3: 13-16 professors per student over four years, or 33-50 students per professor each year.
Increasingly, it’s the relationship with the professor that we sell, not the knowledge. The knowledge is free everywhere.